A Newbie Here Looking for a Career Change...

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    Sooo...I've recently made the decision to go into Nursing from Counseling. I'm hoping to go to a local community college for my pre-reqs; luckily enough, I only need A&P I&II and Microbio, though I'm taking Stats as a refresher and possibly a Nutrition course (my previous degrees, undergrad and grad, are in human services/mental health, so I was able to get around quite a few of the pre-reqs). I'm planning on taking those at a local community college (though I'm not sure how exactly I plan to fund that) and then applying to Duke's ABSN (research track) program. My eventual goal (as of right now) is to get my MSN-Clinical Nurse Specialist so that I can work in Chronic Illness Management with the young adult population. However, I'm definitely open to change, and having already gone into one field that turned out to not be the right fit for me, have no intentions of shutting myself off from anything.

    So, the questions that I have for those willing to share would be:

    1) What program(s) did you apply to and where?

    2) What characteristics did you look for in your BSN/MSN programs?

    3) For those making a career change, did you have trouble getting funding? And if so, what options did you find that allowed you to continue on your path?

    4) Did you contact any faculty in the program prior to applying, and if so, what questions did you ask? What did you think was most pertinent to know about the program and faculty prior to applying/enrolling?

    5) What was the curriculum like? Did you find the workload light, moderate, or heavy? How much time did you dedicate to school work in the average week?

    6) What have been your experiences with clinicals? Do you feel that they prepared for hands-on, real-life work?

    7) How easy/hard was it to find employment upon graduating from your BSN program? Have you had to relocate to find a position?

    8) How happy are you with being a nurse? What would you change? What would you keep the same?


    And for those specifically in the Duke ABSN program:

    1) What drew you in about Duke's ABSN program?

    2) Do you believe that you're getting or got education and training that makes you competitive?

    3) What is the program like?

    4) How prepared were you for the NCLEX?

    5) Was it easy/moderate/hard to land employment post-Duke?

    6) If you've gone on to an MSN program, do you feel that it was beneficial to have received a BSN from Duke versus other schools?

    7) If you don't mind, a salary range would be much appreciated, as I continue to hear that the prestige of the school plays a role in salary, yet I cannot seem to find much information to support that claim.


    I know that these are a lot of questions, and I sincerely appreciate each and every (if any) person that is able to answer any of these questions. This is a huge leap for me, and I didn't ask any of these questions the first time around, or else, I wouldn't be about to change careers now...I just want to go into this with both eyes open and know that I'm making the best decision possible.

    Thanks!

    Nikki
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  3. 7 Comments so far...

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    Any feedback at all would be much appreciated, no matter how much or how little! Thanks!
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    1) What program(s) did you apply to and where?

    Local programs in my area, also programs that have clinical sites near where I live/work. You can get your RN anywhere, try to get your BSN from a college that is attached to a hospital network i.e. Duke.

    2) What characteristics did you look for in your BSN/MSN programs?

    Attached to a hospital network.

    3) For those making a career change, did you have trouble getting funding? And if so, what options did you find that allowed you to continue on your path?

    Nursing scholarships, nearly all states have scholarships available for nurses. The DON of your school's program will help you in that department. Also your employer usually will give some sort of education compensation for going back to school, especially if you work in a hospital. Grants from local/state/federal are available for those who qualify.

    4) Did you contact any faculty in the program prior to applying, and if so, what questions did you ask? What did you think was most pertinent to know about the program and faculty prior to applying/enrolling?

    Yes. NCLEX pass rate should be near the top of your list. But realistically you need to shadow an nurse in the area you're interested in the most. School teaches you how to become a nurse, experience teaches you to be a nurse.

    5) What was the curriculum like? Did you find the workload light, moderate, or heavy? How much time did you dedicate to school work in the average week?

    Nursing school is extremely heavy, one of the top 4 hardest undergrad majors you can have IMO. On an exam week, be prepared to devote at least 5 hours a day, for the 5 days leading up to the exam.

    6) What have been your experiences with clinicals? Do you feel that they prepared for hands-on, real-life work?

    Clinicals will help you get used to the environment and maybe some of the equipment, but your RN work orientation will be the most beneficial for getting you used to "real life work" Clinicals are just a time where you can apply in a practical way what you've been learning in class. That is all.

    7) How easy/hard was it to find employment upon graduating from your BSN program? Have you had to relocate to find a position?

    Obviously if you work in a hospital, you will find work on graduation. Other than that, its about WHO you know. Most new grads that I have met, found work within 6 months.

    8) How happy are you with being a nurse? What would you change? What would you keep the same?

    Not a nurse yet, but I think my window to their view is large enough that I can give a good answer. I'm personally extremely happy with being in the nursing field. I think its a privilege to be able to help people when they need it the most. Change is going to depend on the facility you work at, different facilities have different policies. Also if you like to be on the cutting edge of practice, working at a rural hospital will not help you be "happy" I'd hope the hallmarks of caring and compassion stay the same for nursing.
  6. 0
    Thanks for responding, nccna!
  7. 0
    So, the questions that I have for those willing to share would be:
    1) What program(s) did you apply to and where?

    I applied to a community college ADN program. I am currently on standby by for Fall '13 or Spring '14. I plan to accept if a spot opens up, which is highly likely. However, I am also submitting applications for a few other CCs, and a ABSN program. And 2 direct entry MSN programs.

    2) What characteristics did you look for in your BSN/MSN programs?

    Accreditation
    NCLEX pass rate
    Length
    (But I am pretty much applying anywhere I would be willing to go, because all nursing programs in California are highly impacted and competitive. Some people spend several years applying over and over again just waiting to get in.)

    3) For those making a career change, did you have trouble getting funding? And if so, what options did you find that allowed you to continue on your path?

    I have a previous unrelated degree and have been in Real Estate marketing & sales, and property management for at least the last 8 years. I have spent the last 1 year working part-time and taking prerequisite classes full-time through university and local CC. Luckily, I had no trouble with funding since I have been planning for this. And I have a very supportive husband. We made a deal that I can go back to school full-time while he works, and when I start working, he can go back and earn his MBA or Masters.

    4) Did you contact any faculty in the program prior to applying, and if so, what questions did you ask? What did you think was most pertinent to know about the program and faculty prior to applying/enrolling?

    Yes, I had been in contact with advisors at all the schools I planned to apply to, as much as a year prior to me even starting my prerequisites. Some were very helpful. Some were not. I either met with them in person or spoke via email or phone. The most important thing I asked about was prerequisites and transferable credit. I had my English and Math requirements waived due to previous degree, so I made sure to obtain the waivers. I had some trouble with advisors who did not know what they were talking about. So, I suggest you make sure whoever you talk to is knowledgeable and understands your goals clearly. At times, I had to seek out multiple advisors from the same school to compare information.

    5) What was the curriculum like? Did you find the workload light, moderate, or heavy? How much time did you dedicate to school work in the average week?

    I'm finishing prerequisites at the moment, and will be done this semester. But I have been finding it very easy so far. For me, the workload has been light to moderate. I spend maybe 4-6 hours per week studying and I have had all As and only 1 B. But once I start real nursing classes I'm assuming that will change. But I do not plan to work when I start.
  8. 0
    1) What program(s) did you apply to and where?

    MUSC in Charleston, SC for BSN

    UAB in Birmingham, AL for MSN

    2) What characteristics did you look for in your BSN/MSN programs?

    For BSN, I looked at NCLEX pass rates and the number of people who start the program compared to how many graduate. This is very important since some programs only graduate a small percentage of the people who start. I wanted a program that would support me and make sure I graduated.

    For MSN, I looked at pass rates for boards, curricula, and talked to people I knew about the general reputation of the school. I also considered the school ranking from US News and World Reports. Lastly, cost was a big factor since I was limited in the amount of loans I wanted to take out.

    3) For those making a career change, did you have trouble getting funding? And if so, what options did you find that allowed you to continue on your path?

    I had to take out a significant amount of private loans to get through my BSN, since I was not able to work. And I don't suggest working during an ABSN program. Your GPA is too important! I had a prior BA and JD degrees.

    4) Did you contact any faculty in the program prior to applying, and if so, what questions did you ask? What did you think was most pertinent to know about the program and faculty prior to applying/enrolling?

    I talked to the admissions person at MUCS, and she was lovely and very helpful. I e-mailed some with the director of my program at UAB.

    5) What was the curriculum like? Did you find the workload light, moderate, or heavy? How much time did you dedicate to school work in the average week?

    For my ABSN, it was my life during the program. Since I didn't work, I had some time here and there to spend time with my friends, but you will need to do school work 7 days a week throughout the program. And some days (not a lot but it happens) between lectures and preparing for clinical the next day I'd spend all day (8 am to midnight) getting everything done. There were many night where I only had time for about 4 hours of sleep. It is not easy! But if you like learning, it is a great experience. It is amazing how much you learn and change in 15 months.

    The amount of work for an MSN is overwhelming. I find it to be much harder than the BSN content, but I have been able to work full-time while going to school part-time. I just have done nothing but work and school for 3 years.

    6) What have been your experiences with clinicals? Do you feel that they prepared for hands-on, real-life work?

    For both degrees, I feel like you leave knowing enough to be safe and have enough of a foundation to be able to learn your job. But you are a long way away from actually knowing what to do. That's what orientation is for.

    7) How easy/hard was it to find employment upon graduating from your BSN program? Have you had to relocate to find a position?

    I relocated by choice, because I wanted to start with the best program I could find at a top hospital. For my BSN I had a job offer 2 months before I graduated. I only applied to one hospital and got an offer for their very competitive residency program.

    8) How happy are you with being a nurse? What would you change? What would you keep the same?

    I absolutely love being a nurse and wouldn't change anything. It has been the best decision I ever made. The amount of career opportunities is outstanding, the pay is good, and you know that the work you're doing has a huge impact on the lives of your patients and their families. It is tough work, but so rewarding.

    6) If you've gone on to an MSN program, do you feel that it was beneficial to have received a BSN from Duke versus other schools?

    IMO, grades are much more important than the name of the school.

    7) If you don't mind, a salary range would be much appreciated, as I continue to hear that the prestige of the school plays a role in salary, yet I cannot seem to find much information to support that claim.

    I have never heard this before. Salaries range greatly depending on the area of the country you're in. As a staff nurse, the hospital will have a starting pay that all new grads start at. It doesn't matter where you went to school. And usually the pay is not negotiable. I would say you likely can expect starting pay to be around $25/hr, plus differentials for nights and weekends. But like I said that can vary a lot based on your exact location.

    My last piece of advice is to not underestimate how important your GPA is. You'll hear things like C=RN and such, but in this job market, employers can have their pick of who to hire. An easy way to weed out candidates is by GPA. It takes more than just brains to do well in nursing school and employers know this. I know my GPA has been a big factor in my ability to be able to choose where I want to work. Also having a prior degree and career will open doors for you. It gives you an opportunity to stand out from other candidates. In interviews, you can talk about how your past experiences have influenced you and what they add to your perspective on nursing. Which definitely helps in landing your dream job after graduation!

    I wish you well as you start your journey to becoming a nurse. If you like it half as much as I do, you'll be happy the rest of your life
  9. 0
    Annaiya, thanks so much for posting! Your response/path pretty much mirror my own thoughts/path. I think I was really seeking confirmation that I was on the right path in regards to gathering information and program selection and whatnot, and I feel much more confident having read your response. I still have a lot to figure out, but I do believe I'm at least headed down the right path so far.
  10. 0
    Oh, and thanks to Lauraline, too! Somehow completely missed your comment.


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